Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Maximizing Your Adobe Experience Manager Authoring Experience

As Adobe Experience Manager becomes a bigger and more broadly integrated platform, the authoring experience (AX) needs to be more fully considered by business analysts and information architects when developing system requirements and designs. In the past, web content management systems have been maintained by a team of developers or perhaps the savvy in house business user who has developed some acumen with modifying JSP, ASP or PHP. However, for a CQ system to be truly successful for an organization, its AX needs to be sufficiently simple and engaging for the typical business user to adopt an authoring role for the system. Without broad user adoption a CQ system cannot deliver on its short term ROI promise and the agility in rapidly delivering content to the market place that CQ provides authors with only a modest amount of training. To ensure a high level of author adoption, IAs and BAs must design authoring interfaces which are at least as engaging as the interfaces which they are designing for the end user, because the AX is someone’s job, but consuming the content (UX) is in many cases an optional, but a none the less important experience, regardless of the goal of the website, be it retail, informational an application for collecting and disseminating information. Let’s look at a couple of examples starting with an authoring dialog I came across recently:

The component is a 9x9 product grid. The authoring scheme works, but it requires the author to blindly enter information into a plain extJS dialog. Why not render the grid with a product category component in each cell and engage the authors in the same ways as the UX designer has chosen to engage the customers for this site while collecting the same component configuration properties? Another benefit of this simplified author engaging approach is that it’s much easier to render a grid with a fairly simple content component rather than write the JavaScript to modify each of the tabs as the user selects from a drop down menu in the first tab. A simplified approach makes for a faster velocity during development, fewer defects and a more modular approach to component development. Another thing I saw on my current engagement is that the existing integrator developed a slide show component where they set up the authoring scheme in a similar manner to the experience I just described above.

My approach is at least as easy if not easier to develop and it provides the author with a better experience. The current integrator is developing the slide show with a multi input to choose images or flash presentations along with setting text and URL parameters. Sure it is easy to reorder your slides, but it’s not the rich and rapid feedback authoring experience that CQ promises and companies shell out a substantial amount of money for. My approach is to have the only authorable parameter on the slide show to be a folder in the content tree, where the users create pages of a simple and specific template that presents them with an authoring experience just like any other CQ page, where users can drag in images, edit and revise text in place and see how that text looks in real time which fulfills the promise and potential for CQ. Another benefit of my approach is that you could potentially nest different kinds of interface components, such as items from the Scene7 suite, Flash or some kind of dynamic UX, into a slide rather than be locked into a static look and feel. There is no reason why most if not all aspects of a CQ5 site shouldn’t be maximizing the capabilities of CQ5, especially as the AEM suite encompasses more and more aspects of a site’s enterprise with CQ hooking into Test & Target, Search & Promote, ExactTarget, SiteCatalyst, hybris and the rest of the Adobe Cloud offerings. If your first point of focus is not your authors when you designing a new site to be integrated on CQ5, rethink your design effort, because it’s your authors who seriously impact how much value you return from your CQ5 investment. CQ5 offers so much value in not requiring developers to maintain the content and so much agility by having your business users and managers publishing their own content on demand. With CQ content can go from the author to the live production site as quickly as the author can render it and the approver can accept and publish it. No developer driven WCM system can compete with this kind of agility in the 24/7 marketplace that we live in and serve today. If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact me at - See more at: